LXI LITERATURE UNDER MONGOLS 229 "the Koran in the Persian language." To quote Pro- fessor Cowell : "The stories themselves are generally easy, and told in a delightful style ; but the disquisitions which interrupt them are often c darker than the darkest oracles/ and unintelligible even to the Persians themselves without a copious commentary. When he is clear, no Persian poet can surpass his depth of thought or beauty of imagery ; the flow of fine things runs on unceasingly as from a river-god's urn." * The poem, which is of great length, opens with the following beautiful " Song of the Reed " : List to the reed, that now with gentle strains Of separation from its home complains. Down where the waving rushes grow I murmured with the passing blast, And ever in my notes of woe There lives the echo of the past. My breast is pierced with sorrow's dart, That I my piercing wail may raise ; Ah me ! the lone and widowed heart Must ever weep for bye-gone days. My voice is heard in every throng Where mourners weep and guests rejoice, And men interpret still my song In concert with their passions' voice. Though plainly cometh forth my wail, 'Tis never bared to mortal ken ; As soul from body hath no veil, Yet is the soul unseen of men.2 His Diwan^ or collection of odes, is less known than the Masnavi, although there runs a legend that Sadi, on being requested by his royal patron to select the finest and most sublime ode3 in the Persian tongue, chose one out of the Diwan beginning : Divine Love's voice each instant left and right is heard to sound : We're bound for heaven. To witness our departure who'll'be found ? 1 Oxford Essays, 1855. 2 Translation by Professor E. H. Palmer. 3 Nicholson's beautiful verse-translation of another of the odes is quoted as a heading to this chapter.